Okay, okay, I have my wits about me a little better now with a little rest. All day it has been occurring to me that I wrote better/more in New Orleans than I have written in a while. I am convinced that I now need to sneak down every once in a while and wander and jot. I did a lot of that. Walk a little, get a thought, sit someplace for a bit and write, repeat. I can’t explain it, There’s just something magical about the place that made me feel good.

To begin, this is my hair in Chicago on a rainy, humid day:

And, this is my hair on a slightly overcast day in New Orleans:

Just fyi, there. I’ve decided not to cut my hair again until my next manuscript’s first draft is completely finished, by the by. Just as an aside that doesn’t relate to anything of pressing importance. Anyway.

Let’s see, where did we leave off in detailing the festival? Ah yes. (As a side note– look what the TW Fest blogger, the one and only Kevin Allman, posted about yours truly. He is, of course, talking about my adventure with the contents of a large gris-gris bag being flung at my feet by a mysterious stranger, my run-in with a very unique drag queen and my search for vegetarian cusine.)

Right. Whwn we left off, I was about to go tape an interview.

Well, it was great. I mean, I think it weant well, but I won’t know that for sure until I see the footage. Soon, dolls, soon enough. But, afterwards, I found out that there is an author out there who signs her books with a combination of red ink and her own menstrual blood. Someone please tell me who this is and then convince her she and I need to tour around together.

Anyway, after the interview, I went to an opening reception at a historical center, chatted and laughed, then moved to a little bar with a few folks for even merrier chatting and laughing for a bit.

the next morning, the first panel was great. Beyond great, really. Arin Black is a genius so, as a moderator, you know she kicked ass. Sidney Thompson sat on the panel with me, as did his wife Jennifer Paddock and the charming and colorful John Prichard. I feel like it all went really well, and I even managed to get a couple of laughs in, which is usually my goal in any given situation.

The reading was immediately after and I feel like it went wonderfully. First, Margaret Sartor read from her beautiful and sentimental Miss American Pie, which is excerpts of diaries she kept growing up in the 1970s in Monroe, Louisiana. Then, the always-funny Haven Kimmel read from her She Got Up Off The Couch, which had everyone rolling. Paula Morris read a hilarious excerpt from her latest, Trendy But Casual, made even more enjoyable by her sharp and fabulous New Zealand accent. Then, I went. If you’ve read my Three Fallen Women, you know its far heavier than it is funny. So, I made a joke about being a downer and dove in. And, everything was right. I don’t know what forces came together, but they did and I was happy with how I did. I worried, you see, that reading something so vastly different after such funny reads, that my reading might fall short. But, I think it played well. Four people claimed one could have “heard a pin drop” during the reading, so I will assume that is because I was doing well and not because the audience was asleep (har har).

Afterwards, I grabbed lunch with visiting Sparkypoo & Co. at the Gumbo Shop, which, to my delight, boasted a vegetarian dish du jour and then followed them as they wandered around the French Market area before dashing back to my hotel to get very dolled up for a party/literary salon at a stunning private home in the French Quarter and made friends with a band with some excellent ideas for musical greeting cards, bumped into John Waters at the bar, shared my mortifying Morrissey story with Sidney Thompson, Sidney Thompson shared his mortifying Michael Stipe story with me, made friends with an extremely cool lady with extremely cool glasses and her (I think?) brother, and then chatted with a charming fellow I’d met a day before.

Then onto a more impromptu party after that. Loved both of these gatherings. Loved. I really just loved all of the people gathering this weekend. Everyone I was hanging out with, really, I just adored. Unfortunately, I had a bit of work to do, so I ran back to my hotel late that night, got the work finished and crashed out.

Sunday morning, I did a bit of work in my hotel room, dolled up a bit and stepped out to the Bourbon Orleans Hotel to moderate a panel about outrageous writers, the outrageous writers being my now-pals Sidney Thompson, John Prichard with the addition of Ace Atkins. I struggled to keep questions relevant to three so-different authors, but I got laughs, and got good feedback, and saw familiar faces smiling in the crowd, so I’m happy with how it went.

After, I chatted with some audience members, bought a few books and had an incredible conversation with a guy from the New Orleans Public Library system. Stay tuned readers! I have a big, cool, project in the works that will, with any luck, help NOPL out a bit.

Then, a quick dash to the hotel again to change clothes into something cooler then back to Jackson Square for the very hilarious Stella Shouting contest, where, as the titles might suggest, involves a crowd of people taking turns shouting Stella! Stella! Stelllllaaaaaaaaaaaa! up to a Stella on the balcony. Such a riot. Then, we all followed the six finalists into a beautiful, old theater to determine the winner and sip mint julep, which, you know, twist my arm.

After, I, with a tipsy julep head, met up with Sparkypoo & Co. again for an outrageously good fried eggplant po’ boy and a few laughs before heading to Cafe du Monde for a nice hot cafe au lait and a few last beignets before we all parted ways.

Maybe the story ends there. But, maybe it doesn’t. I have failed to spill the dirt about being at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop bar, the funny but wonderful conversation at the casino, the recounting of the phone-sex story, the tough old southern ladies who insisted they could identify with the Frieda character in my Three Fallen Women, the randomly wonderful thing John Waters said, the walk around the French Quarter very late at night, the impromptu bohemian salon in scattered parlor chairs, the fellow with the most entertaining story about Hurricane Katrina/tiger sharks/corpses/weapons, discussion about Space Camp and how reviving it can immediately improve an iffy situation, and a promise to stuff a grand plot into a very short story. That stuff is different. It stays in my head for now.

In any case, I met some wonderful people, I heard and read some wonderful things, had some wonderful experiences and, though I am happy to be in my apartment with my cat again, I will admit that I miss New Orleans a bit. It is pretty great there.

Until next time, then.